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Lot 103: Wyeth, Andrew - Marsh Hawk, Tempera on masonite, 30 1/2 x 45
November 20, 2013
Lexington, KY, USALive Auction
Description: Marsh Hawk Tempera on masonite, 30 1⁄2" x 45" Signed Executed in 1964 $5,000,000. - 7,000,000.Andrew Wyeth's paintings have the rare ability to draw the viewer into the past, a past that is distinctly his, yet he allows one to feel as if it is somehow a shared memory. Marsh Hawk is an extraordinary example of this ability; you can't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia for the old millhouse and the long forgotten wagons. Like a great storyteller, Wyeth presents a scene that is altogether foreign, but makes one feel as if you are looking through an old family photo album."Time stops as his paintings make permanent what we know to be transitory. Paths and tracks in the snow or sand, or birds in flight become as fixed and static as ancient hieroglyphs; a sunbeam's playfulness on a wall, a patch of snow in the sun, or a fleeting flush of anger on his wife's cheek are made timeless and unchanging." (The Art of Andrew Wyeth, San Francisco, California, 1973, p. 155) The painting gained its title because of the hawk perched on a post in the background and depicts the Wyeths' Millhouse in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania as it was in 1964. While the piece depicts a very specific time and place, Wyeth's use of color and shadows combined with fine details makes you feel as if you are recalling an old memory or a forgotten dream. Wyeth described the painting in his autobiography thusly: "This tempera was done in Pennsylvania. The hay wagons were given to me by the Harveys, who lived nearby. I found their colors wonderful and their craftsmanship beautiful. I was taken by the shape of the carts and the way the wheels were built. They dated back to around 1850 - 1860. Their wheels and hubs were magnificently constructed. Some of my best drawings are details of them. To think that these very wagons rolled over those rugged hills of Chadds Ford! The title comes from the marsh hawk sitting on the fence in the left distance. Late afternoon light is streaking across. The wagons were all swept away in a flood down the river to Wilmington. Nothing lasts. Shouldn't." The last line: "Nothing lasts. Shouldn't." tugs at the heart and makes one wish they could preserve the precious memories in life as Wyeth has done so masterfully in Marsh Hawk. When this painting was sold at Sotheby's in 1981, it achieved the highest price ever paid for a living American painter at the time. (Key Words: Thoroughbred Horse Racing, Polo, Steeplechase, Fox Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, African Wildlife, Western)
Dimensions: 30 1/2 x 45
Artist or Maker: Andrew Wyeth
Medium: Tempera on masonite